Pop PSU pill and procreate - State-produced drug to protect childless couples from being fleeced

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By CITHARA PAUL in Delhi
  • Published 5.01.09
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New Delhi, Jan. 5: India’s lethargic public sector has been revitalised in communist Kerala, foraying into a new terrain of fecundity.

The Pharmaceutical Corporation of Kerala Limited (Oushadhi) has become the first PSU to launch an infertility drug, challenging the private sector’s monopoly.

Vigour Plus will be cheap at Rs 300 per 60 capsules, and will protect childless couples from being fleeced by private firms, said Reghunandanan V. Menon, marketing manager, Oushadhi.

“There are so many infertility drugs in the market. But Vigour Plus’s USP is that it is being produced by a fully government-owned company. So it is more reliable,” Menon said.

Prakash Karat and his comrades have reason to preen, and not just at this new proof of how the public sector can promote productivity. They will be hoping that the Marxist parivar will now enlarge and flourish, because committed Left supporters can now buy the pills with a clear conscience.

The move is also some sort of revolution. The most visible link between the public sector and the bedroom had so far been Hindustan Latex’s condoms and contraceptive pills, which espouse the opposite of fertility.

Citu leader and former Rajya Sabha member C.. Paulose praised Oushadhi’s “great venture”. He said: “It’s a bold and innovative step on the part of the CPM-led government in Kerala. This drug will be cheaper and more reliable as it is being produced by a public sector company that has no profit motive.”

Oushadhi, the country’s largest government-run ayurvedic medicine producer, launched the new male infertility drug in Kerala a week ago. Vigour Plus will be available over-the-counter at every Indian metro next month and later, across the country.

The pill has to be taken with milk four times a day. It will not only improve a man’s libido but also his sperm count, Oushadhi says.

One in seven Indian couples is infertile — unable to conceive after a year to 18 months of unprotected sex — and low sperm count is the main reason. Kerala alone has a Rs 500-crore market in infertility drugs.

“Various private companies are out to make a kill, knowing well that infertile couples would be ready to spend any amount to have an offspring. Many private companies charge exorbitant prices for simple concoctions. Many of the drugs are said to have side effects,” Menon said.

The main ingredients of Vigour Plus are sathavari (Asparagus racemosus), aswagandha (Withania somnifera), atmaguptha (Macuna somnifera) and Gokshuram (Tribulus terrestrisis).

Oushadhi says the drug was tested on 72 males of whom 25 were infertile. After six months, eight were able to get their partners to conceive.

Oushadhi, established in 1941 by the Maharaja of Kochi, is working on female infertility too. The company has a turnover of Rs 20 crore.